Walkabout (1971) by The Realist and Tuna
Realist's comments in white:
Walkabout is one of the nuttier movies I've ever seen.
It starts out in suburban Sydney, with a typical family living in a typical middle-class apartment, but something is odd about their interaction. You just can't put your finger on it, but something isn't right.
This judgment is confirmed in a few minutes when dad takes the kids for a picnic. He drives them out to a remote section of the outback where the roads are unpaved, and he tell them to unpack the picnic items. We see the gas gauge, and he has none at all for the return trip. The teenage girl and the little boy start to spread out the picnic when the dad starts shooting at them. It turns out that he's as nutty as a fruitcake, and he apparently came to this remote area to kill himself, which he then proceeds to do.
It isn't clear why he brought the children along on his suicide mission, except that he's out of his head, but the kids manage to escape the hailstorm of bullets and find themselves stranded in the remote outback, with no idea where to go. The girl decides that they need to get to high ground to see which way to go, so they start some climbing. This chapter of the film consists entirely of the two kids, still wearing their school uniforms, walking in the untamed land, and would probably make a perfect special on the Discovery Channel.
|They are not very successful in their quest for civilization until they run into an aboriginal boy who is on his "walkabout", a test of manhood which entails survival on one's own. The next chapter consists of him helping them to find houses and roads, and helping them to survive along the way. He knows how to kill and prepare game, how to find water, and so forth.||
plenty of incidents with an eccentric twist or an odd tone. The
aboriginal boy sees a settlement, but doesn't tell the others. Is he
hiding it from them, or perhaps does he not understand that they want
to go there? They find a deserted farmhouse, and the teenage girl
cries over some photographs, while the aboriginal watches her, not
understanding her reaction. Then he covers himself with white paint
and performs some kind of courtship ritual for the young girl, but she
is frightened, not aroused, and cowers. The aboriginal does not know
how to communicate to them. The little boy is never really scared of
the native, and simply treats him as another person his sister's age,
from whom he learns some cool things. The film is cut strangely. The
girl swims peacefully, while the aboriginal boy kills some game for food, cut to
girl, cut to boy. Then they intercut some scenes of some adults with
high-powered weapons killing more game. Then some more aboriginals
find the suicidal father and his burnt-out car. Cut back, cut forth.
All the while, flies buzz about everyone and lizards stare
impassively. Cut to boy, cut to girl, cut to hunters, cut to flies,
cut to lizards. When in doubt about how to proceed, cut to colorful
lizards and sunsets.
When the kids return to civilization, the girl daydreams of her adventures in the outback, but her daydreams seem to have an ease of communication that were not present in reality. The three kids are back in the swimming hole, all swimming naked together and laughing. The narrator reads us some lines about times lost that can never be reclaimed, and the girl seems to feel a sense of loss, or perhaps of opportunities missed forever. I guess I just gave away the ending, if that matters to you. Sorry. I know the tension must have been killing you, and my heart reached out to you.
I really don't know what this movie means. A lot of critics felt that it was some kind of masterpiece. I always start to worry when a review says "more of an allegorical tone poem than a conventional adventure". Some people are lactose intolerant, I am intolerant of allegorical tone-poetry.
Scoop's notes in aqua: the actual poetry quoted by the narrator at the end of the film is from A.E. Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad':
I thought the film had its moments, but was generally just as boring as all get-out. I did really like two things about the movie:
Tuna's comments in yellow:
Walkabout is one of those movies that everyone who follows celebrity nudity knows all about. This seemingly simple story of a young girl (Jenny Agutter) and her kid brother, stranded in the bush by their father's suicide, who were guided back safely by a young aborigine her age on his "Walkabout," or coming of age ritual, could be a simple love story, it could be about the unhappiness of city dwellers as opposed to aborigines, or it could be about the problems caused by lack of communication. It glancing three the reviews, everyone has a different theory as to what the symbolism is, but everyone agrees that it is a masterpiece, beautifully filmed, and everybody agrees that Agutter looks very good in her numerous nude scenes.
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